• Kyle McCracken, MD, PhD

    2024 Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar Award
    Kyle McCracken, MD, PhD

    Kyle McCracken, MD, PhD

    2024 Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar Award

    Institution: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

    Project Title: FOXI1-dependent genetic mechanisms of human intercalated cell development

    How would you sum up your overall research focus in one sentence?

    Investigating and modeling cell fate decisions and morphogenesis during kidney development using human stem cell-derived organoids.

    Provide a brief overview of the research you will conduct with help from the grant.

    A major focus of my lab is to gain a better understanding of the formation and differentiation of the collecting system of the kidney. With the help of the ASN funding, we will explore how genetic pathways control cell type specification in these structures during development.

    What inspired you to focus your research in this area?

    Since my PhD, I have been fascinated by the mechanisms that control cell fate determination, largely because understanding these processes is crucial for reproducing human tissue models of development and function. When I started in the kidney field as a nephrology fellow, I focused on the development of the collecting system since there was not much known in this area and it is so crucial to the function of the kidney.

    What impact do you hope your research will have on patients?

    Our work is focused on basic biology, but ultimately I am hopeful that it will be applied to help solve problems understanding a host of clinical problems related to the distal nephron, including hypertension, kidney stones, and diabetes insipidus.

    What are your career goals at the end of the grant period? Five years out? Ten years out?

    By the end of this award period, I hope to be securing funding through NIH grant awards that will enable my lab to continue to pursue this line of research. Over the subsequent 5-10 years, my goal is that my lab will make important contributions to advance the methods and technologies for generating human kidney tissues. As a collective field, I think that a reasonable goal is that we can produce more functional renal tissue that might have important implications for nephrology in terms of drug development and possibly/hopefully renal replacement strategies.

    What are the major challenges facing nephrology research today?

    One challenge is the overabundance and ease of generating huge amounts of data from advancing genomic sequencing technologies but our comparatively immature ability to truly understand and make sense of it. A major goal will be learning to more meaningfully apply these data to garner a deeper understanding of biology and kidney disease.

    What advice would you give to others to encourage them to apply for this grant funding?

    As a prior recipient of the Ben Lipps Fellowship through KidneyCure and now this Gottschalk award, these funding opportunities have had an immensely positive impact on my training and early career, so I would encourage anyone to apply without hesitation.

    Something you may not know about me is…

    Coincidentally, my new lab that I started at Cincinnati Children's Hospital is actually in the same physical location (which is now renovated) in which I did my PhD research studying development of the endoderm and gastrointestinal tract.

    In my free time, I like to…

    Listen to podcasts (about history, comedy, and nephrology!, etc), watch/follow a variety of sports especially Ohio State Buckeye football.